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December 22nd, 2016
FTC Hits Targeting Platform Turn Inc. for Deceptive Online Tracking
FTC v. Turn: Keep Your Privacy Promises about Tracking, Retargeting and Opting Out
According to the FTC, Turn participated in a Verizon Wireless ("VZW") program that allowed Turn and its clients to access demographic information about VZW's users. As part of that program, VZW uniquely identified each of its users by appending an "X-UIDH header" to every unencrypted web request of its 100+ million users. Turn then synced that header with other identifiers (e.g., cookies and device identifiers), enabling Turn to track and target users for digital advertising even after the consumer had deleted cookies or reset his or her mobile device advertising identifier.
The proposed consent order: (1) prohibits Turn from misrepresenting the extent of its online tracking or the ability of its users to limit or control Turn's use of their data; (2) requires Turn to provide an effective opt-out mechanism for consumers who do not want to receive targeted advertising; and (3) requires Turn to place a link on its home page that takes users to a disclosure explaining what information Turn collects and uses for targeted advertising.
The Key Takeaways
- They Are Watching You Watch Others. The FTC and other regulators are becoming increasingly sophisticated at understanding the complex technology underlying the digital advertising ecosystem. This case demonstrates the "tech prowess" of the FTC, which successfully unraveled Turn's creation of a "supercookie" through the use of VZW's X-UIDH header. Not bad, FTC.
If you have any questions about online tracking, or other digital media or privacy issues, please contact Jeremy S. Goldman at (310) 579 9611 or email@example.com, Tanya L. Forsheit at (310) 579 9615 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Terri Seligman at (212) 826 5580 or email@example.com, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Privacy and Data Security or Advertising Groups.
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